UAE: Up to Dh100,000 fine, 2 months in jail for taking photos, videos at the cinema

Despite an advisory issued before the start of the movie warning not to take pictures and videos, many still indulge in the practice

by

Waheed Abbas

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Published: Wed 3 Jan 2024, 10:28 AM

Last updated: Wed 3 Jan 2024, 11:37 PM

Have you ever taken a video of photo of a movie in the theatre? This could fetch you a heavy fine and even jail time.

Despite an advisory issued before the start of the movie warning movie-goers not to take pictures and videos as this violates copyright laws of the country, many still indulge in the practice.

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“In the UAE, it is illegal to film or photograph a movie scene while watching a film in a cinema without the permission of the copyright holders of the movie contents,” said Alexander Kukuev, managing partner, Uppercase Legal Advisory.

In 2021, the UAE Government issued a new Federal Law No. 38 of 2021 concerning Copyright & Neighboring Rights, which came into force in January 2022 and replaced the old Federal Law No. 7 of 2002.

“As for copyright infringement, Articles 39, 40 and 41 of the UAE Federal Law No. 38 of 2021 establish penalties which can include fines, imprisonment, and the seizure and destruction of infringing copies, as well as the acts that are considered copyright infringement, such as reproducing, distributing, and communicating a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright owner,” said Kukuev.

“In the UAE, it is illegal to film or photograph a movie scene while watching a film in a cinema without the permission of copyright holders. The offence is considered a copyright violation, and offenders may be subject to fines of up to Dh100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to two months,” he said, quoting Article 30 of the law.

Moreover, the UAE’s copyright law is based on international agreements and treaties, including the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. The UAE became a member of the convention in 2004.

There is also an age restriction for admission to cinemas in the UAE.

“UAE cinemas must strictly adhere to the age rating, which requires inspecting customers’ proof of age and identification documents. However, there is no liability for underage persons or their parents - the key consequence will be deprivation of opportunity to watch a film in the cinema,” he added.

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